Taste Of The Tetons Part II -> 5 Dog-Friendly Outings
Pets are prohibited in the backcountry and on park trails…
Pets are prohibited from public buildings and swimming beaches….
Pets are prohibited from riding in boats on park waters….
This is just a partial list of the things you cannot do with your doggie within the limits of Grand Teton National Park, and it’s pretty typical of just about every National Park (bar a select few) in the entire USA. Basically you can walk your dog in the parking lot or on driveable roads, but nowhere else. For those who are pooch-crazy (like us), it’s a total bummer since it means we can’t do what we enjoy most (hiking) with those we love the most (Polly).
It’s the reason we typically avoid National Parks in our RV travels. Since we rarely hike without doggie, and we don’t like to leave her more than 4 hours at a time there’s just not much attraction in being in a place where all you can do is gawk at it from the outside. Well, except when you’re in the Tetons of course and gawking is exactly what you came to do.
Plus there’s an extra trick…
We discovered a special doggie loophole a mere 3 months into our RV travels in 2010, and that secret is National Forest. Most National Parks are surrounded by abundant (huge, enormous) slices of National Forest and the rules there are entirely different. They’re dog-friendly everywhere including all trails, and some even allow “voice control” (no leash requirement). That’s typically where we find our doggie salvation, and in the Teton area we did the same. In addition we discovered a few extra “hidden gems” in and around town.
So, here’s our top 5 places to find doggie love in the Tetons:
1/ Gros Ventre Wilderness
In the area East of Teton NP lies a 285,505 acre swath of land managed by the Forest Service called Gros Ventre (= Large Stomach in French, likely named by the same guys who saw Big Breasts in the mountains). It is a huge, rolling hills area of utter doggie happiness offering miles of outdoor enjoyment and hiking trails.
Take Gros Ventre road ~10 miles north of Jackson from Hwy 89 and continue on as far as you like. You’ll pass the Slide Geological Area (a big slide caused by the Teton Fault), Slide Lake (doggie swimming!) and enter a huge area of interconnected, multi-use trails. Plus the views of the Tetons as you drive back is pretty awesome. Finish off your morning hike with a coffee or sandwich at the teeny dog-friendly coffee shop in Kelly. It’s not exactly gourmet, but it’s one of the best places to get a full view of the Tetons and relax with doggie on the lawn or outdoor seating.
Link to Gros Ventre Info -> Click HERE
2/ Jackson, WY
Dog friendly in Jackson?? Those who’ve been here know it can be a hassle to find anywhere paw friendly in town. Most of the city parks prohibit them, the Saturday farmers market (which is excellent) prohibits them and the local Snake River Brewing, which has a perfect dog-tempting outdoor patio prohibits them too (waaaahhhhhhh!!). I think I called around ~25 other restaurants with patios that all said the same thing. No dogs, even outside. What is it with this town? But I managed to find two key exceptions.
- Snow King Mountain Hike – This short, steep hike right behind Jackson is dog-friendly and provides excellent views to boot. Just be prepared to go steep (~1,500 vertical feet in 1.8 miles)
- MacPhail’s Burgers – This little nondescript joint on the edge of town may be the nicest family-run burger place we’ve ever been too. Super friendly, two local Snake River brews on tap and a lovely pooch-friendly outdoor seating area. The burgers are not cheap, but they are excellent and can easily be shared. Plus, local beer!
P.S. Although Snake River Brewing does not allow dogs I do recommend a separate trip without the paws to check them out. The brews are excellent and the pizza’s are very tasty (gluten-free available). Paul and I particularly enjoyed their Pakos IPA and Zonker Stout. Plus how can you resist a brewery whose motto is “put our river through your liver”?
3/ Teton Village, WY
Whereas Jackson is not really much of a town for doggies, Teton Village (sometimes called “Jackson Hole”) just ~20 mins NW is a pooch wonderland. Here dogs are welcomed with open paws, encouraged to hike the abundant trails on the mountain, to join their owners in a game of disc golf (one of the coolest courses I’ve seen on our travels), to go into shops, or just to hang in one of the many outdoor seating areas around town. In the few places that prohibit them, there’s dog-friendly “barking” (= parking) spots and water bowls. We saw happy dogs everywhere we went, spent several hours hiking the mountain in doggie bliss and hung out afterwards for a bite in the main square.
Info on Teton Village Hiking -> Click HERE.
4/ Curtis Canyon
Just east of Jackon you can grab the road that heads around the back of the Elk Refuge (Elk Refuge Road) towards Curtis Canyon. On this drive you’ll pass the historic Miller Ranch (= not paw-friendly), and then enter the vast National Forest area just beyond it (= 100% paw-friendly!). The road here can be very rutted, but just up the mountain you’ll get great views of the Tetons and lots of paw-friendly trails. Many dog-owners hike the 6-mike round trip to Goodwin Lake, but we just wandered around the top of the mountain enjoying the butterflies and the views. Be on the lookout for wildlife on this trip. We saw both Pronghorns and Bighorn Sheep on the drive back along the refuge.
5/ Teton National Park
What?? I thought you just told me doggies can’t go anywhere here?? True I did, but that doesn’t mean you can’t bring them along for the drive. Doggie can accompany you on the big loop drive, and can admire the views from the frequent turn-outs along the way. You just can’t hike the trails or go into the water. We brought doggie with us to Snake River Overlook, Oxbow Bend and around the entire Teton loop. Plus we were able to find drive-able dirt roads (according to the rules, if cars can go there doggies can too) near Gros Ventre Campground where we could hike with doggie for miles. Just don’t bring doggie if you’re planning to do a photo shoot at Schawbacher Landing. The best pics are from the trail where doggie can’t go.
That wraps up our Taste of the Tetons. Overall this area may be one of the best surprising experiences we’ve had in our 5 years of travel. We extended our stay twice simply because we couldn’t bear to leave, and if we had the choice we’d be spending the next 3 weeks right here. The vibe is right, the town is friendly and the views…well, they’re just mind-blowing. Plus there are a surprising number of things you can do with doggie despite the restrictive rules of the NP.
Will we be back? You bet your paws we will!!
Post-Post Note/ Be BEAR AWARE. This is grizzly county and when out hiking with doggie, keep him/her close and always bring bear spray (and keep it in a place that’s easily accessible). If your dog is the type that strays or doesn’t have a solid stop & come back command, keep them on a leash.
- Exploring The Tetons w/ doggie -> From gopetfriendly. Click HERE.
- Three Dog-Friendly Hikes around Jackson -> Click HERE.
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